Scientists Are Bioengineering Pigs for Human Organ Transplants

Scientists Are Bioengineering Pigs For Human Organ Transplants

( – Human organs aren’t exactly readily available when they are needed by patients. Availability is supported by the fact America has the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), but it can’t keep up with the demand. Scientists are now trying to figure out ways to alleviate the pressure on the system, and one way they are going about doing it is by experimenting with pig organs.

Minneapolis lab Miromatrix is on a lofty mission. Scientists who work for the company want to help ease the country’s liver shortage by bioengineering pig livers to use inside human bodies. The scientists who work at the lab are treating pig livers by shampooing the swine cells out of the organ. Once it’s done, the used-to-be red organ becomes semi translucent.

After the pig cells are all removed, human liver cells are put into the organ. The method being used was created by Dr. Harald Ott and regenerative medicine expert Doris Taylor when they decellularized a dying rat’s heart in the early 2000s. In the process, they managed to place baby rats’ immature heart cells into the dying rat.

The company wants to begin human testing of the bioengineered organs sometime in 2023. The first time the experiment takes place, it would be outside a patient’s body. Miromatrix’s scientists will place the cleansed liver next to the bed of the patient whose liver has failed and reroute the blood to temporarily filter it through the non-human replacement organ.

The Food and Drug Administration has to approve the trials before they can begin. As of the end of December, the federal agency was waiting on answers to questions it had about the lab’s application.

Miromatrix CEO Jeff Ross told the Associated Press the lab is “essentially regrow[ing] the organ” and human “bodies won’t see it as a pig organ anymore.”

If the trials are approved and work, it could change the face of organ donation. More than 100,000 US citizens are waiting for organ transplants.

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